Dubai: Be it a strategic decision to seek the perceived better discounts — the struggle to accommodate time — or just good old fashioned procrastination, each holiday sees its fair share of last minute, often slightly frenzied, holiday gift buyers.
“I do notice an increase in gift purchases as December progresses. We’ve had a free gift wrapping station up since December 1 and it only gets busier by the week,” said a branch store manager at one of the Virgin Megastores in Dubai, who did not wish to be named.
A free gift wrapping counter is just one of the many ways a brand can cater to customers who are stuck trying to make something work at the last minute.
“I think the most effective way to cater to such holiday shoppers is by effectively communicating information that makes buying just a little easier,” says Poonam Jangir, a marketing and social media consultant based in Dubai.
Email and SMS marketing, for instance, can be highly effective communication tools when it comes to promotions but only when optimised to the customer’s needs, according to her.
“Send customers emails that feature holiday gift ‘wish lists’ or SMS counting down to the holidays and pair these with special promotions or coupons to incentivise the customer,” she said.
In the UAE, hypermarkets such as Carrefour, Lulu and Hyperpanda have all promoted their limited time discount offers on gifts and goodies through various marketing platforms.
Marketers are also making promotional efforts towards local bloggers’ and influencers — particularly when it may be too late to make it into print gift guides.
“We have noticed a greater push from brands to social influencers this time of year. There have been more ‘gifts’ in the hope that they will be featured in social media feeds,” says Mitch Hyde, a UAE-based Australian social media influencer, who runs adventurefaktory.com with his partner.
Suman Sharma, co-founder and marketing manager of Umbrella Media UAE, believes that retailers need to go above and beyond promotional tactics and traditional forms of advertising to effectively reach out to last minute buyers.
“Be helpful — genuinely. There’s no better way to market your business than by being helpful during a time when most of us need all the help we can get,” she said.
For last minute shoppers whose priority is to save time or those that would rather avoid elbowing their way through crowds, adapting a brand’s online and mobile presence to curate urgent purchases with multiple delivery options can keep them from switching to a competitor’s site.
For instance, ThinkGeek, an online American retailer that ships internationally, breaks down its products to gift selections that lets shoppers look through specific interests.
Retailers, such as Sephora, with their own shopping apps, can also be particularly useful in terms of searching through gift ideas, while reducing the risk of the shopper’s attention being drawn to multiple retailers.
Going the extra mile
Shoppers seeking more flexibility may also have the tendency to prefer purchasing from retailers that offer gift cards online.
“And when consumers come your way, don’t forget that the physical stores are adapted to assist those last minute buyers,” says Sharma.
Some of her suggestions include attracting customers through their children, extending openings hours and bringing on additional seasonal staff to cope. “It is really just about going the extra mile,” she said.
BurJuman mall, for example, has organised “winter activities” every evening till January 7 that includes arts and crafts zones to keep children occupied, allowing parents to shop.
“Do what needs to be done to save time, money and hassle, to become the go-to retailer for last-minute holiday shoppers,” Sharma said.
So retailers, are you ready with your holiday hats to cash in on those final-hour customers?
The writer is an intern with Gulf News